Nov 2, 2023 - News

ACLU asks SCOTUS to consider Tennessee's gender-affirming care ban

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

A group of Tennessee families and doctors wants the U.S. Supreme Court to block the state's ban on gender-affirming care for minors.

Driving the news: Lawyers for the group filed a petition Wednesday asking the high court to reconsider an appeals court decision that allowed the ban to go into effect this summer.

  • The coalition handling the legal challenge includes the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal.

Why it matters: While several federal courts have ruled on gender-affirming care bans, the Supreme Court has yet to weigh in. Should the high court agree to take the case, it could set the stage for a ruling with implications in many states.

Zoom out: The Associated Press reports more than 20 states have banned or restricted gender-affirming care for minors since 2021.

Flashback: Last year, a video surfaced featuring discussions of Vanderbilt University Medical Center's gender-affirming care options for minors, including surgeries. Tennessee Republicans quickly moved to ban all gender-affirming care for minors.

Context: Surgeries for transgender youth are rare — hormones and puberty blockers are more common options. Gender-affirming care is supported by major medical associations including the American Academy of Pediatrics.

State of play: Supporters of Tennessee's gender-affirming care ban, which Republican lawmakers advanced this year, framed it as an effort to protect children.

  • But doctors and families pushed back, saying the treatments could be life-saving for children suffering from gender dysphoria.

What they're saying: "Over the past few months this vicious law has already had a disastrous impact in homes and communities across Tennessee," Lucas Cameron-Vaughn, an ACLU-Tennessee staff attorney, said in a statement Wednesday.

  • "Families are losing access to much-needed medical care that has allowed their children to flourish."
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